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Hawaiian History


Key Events in Hawaiian History

An abbreviated timeline of Hawaiian history.
To learn more about the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian government, read `ONIPA`A and SEPTEMBER 11, 1897…Patriotism in Hawai`i

Mo‘olelo o Nā Ali‘i

The fragments of Hawai‘i’s history that exist at all today are due to the determination of individuals in the 19th century to preserve a rapidly dying culture...(continue)

Stories of Prominent People

Stories of prominent people in Hawaiian history that have appeared in the Northwest Hawai`i Times are listed in alphabetical order according to the first letter in their name. To find them, click below on one of the thirteen letters in the Hawaiian alphabet:

A * E * I * O * U * H * K * L * M * N * P * W and ` (`okina)

For prominent people in Hawaiian history that do not have Hawaiian names, click the corresponding letter below:

B* C * D * F * G * J * Q * R * S * T * V * X * Y * Z

More Stories from Hawaiian History





Roy Alameida's Mo‘olelo o Nā Ali‘i

The fragments of Hawai‘i’s history that exist at all today are due to the determination of individuals in the Roy Alameida19th century to preserve a rapidly dying culture. Hawaiian historians, Samuel Kamakau, David Malo, John Papa ‘Ī‘ī, during the early 1800s, earnestly interviewed and collected information from the kūpuna or elders (some reluctant to share their knowledge) the legends, genealogies, cultural traditions and historical memories. These collections are preserved in print today. In the last 30 years the interest in Hawaiian history, culture, and language increased especially with the events surrounding the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893.

Although the chiefs are now gone, the history of Hawai‘i must not be forgotten. It is through the Northwest Hawai‘i Times that sketches of the past will be shared as a medium to perhaps help us to understand the forces, events, and people that shaped Hawai‘i’s history.

March 2009 -- After the death of his cousin, Keōuakūahu`ula, at Pu`ukoholā heiau, Kamehameha was recognized as the ruler of Hawai`i Island. He remained on the island for several years and used the time of peace to rebuild the economy of the island, obtain large amounts of firearms from foreign ships and retained John Young and Isaac Davis as his military advisers and strategists.

February 2009 -- “I mua e nā poki‘i a inu i ka wai ‘awa‘awa, ‘a‘ole hope e ho‘i aku,” (forward my little brothers, and drink of the bitter waters, there is no retreat) became the motto of Kamehameha during the battle of ‘Īao on Maui. Upon hearing this from their Ali‘i, the warriors of Kamehameha understood that the battle would be fought until the bitter end.

January 2009 -- According to sources, a young Ali‘i was smitten by the physical beauty and grace of Ka‘ahumanu and pursued his advances toward her. Hawaiian historian, Samuel Kamakau, recorded that while Kamehameha was away, Ka‘ahumanu, on several occasions, drank rum at several lū‘au (feast) and apparently under the influence of alcohol met up with the young Ali‘i, Kanihonui, at the hale moe (sleeping house).

December 2008 -- Four years had passed since the battle at Moku‘ōhai where Kamehameha took part in the death of his cousin Kīwala‘ō who, at the time, had control of the governance of Hawai‘i island. But it was the bold appearance of a young woman who requested from the Ali‘i, including Kamehameha, that the body of Kīwala‘ō be her kuleana or responsibility to prepare for burial.

November 2008 -- After the battles at Laupāhoehoe, Kamehameha remained for some time, tending the lo‘i, fishing and rebuilding the heaiu, Papauleki‘i. But in order for the heiau to be complete, it required the sacrifice of a human.

October 2008 -- With his well-trained warriors prepared to battle against the warriors of Hilo and Hāmākua, Kamehameha led one division called the malana of twelve hundred men. The other division known as Kīpu‘upu‘u was under the command of Nanuikaleiōpū, a well-known and trained warrior who was trusted by Kamehameha.

September 2008 -- Makoa left Kawaihae for Laupāhoehoe to meet Pīna‘au, the ali‘i left in charge by Keawemauhili of Hilo. He relayed Kamehameha’s message of his craving for the smashed sweet potato and the goby fish from the upland streams of Laupāhoehoe, in other words, a declaration of war to avenge the death of his beloved ali‘i.

August 2008 -- Upon hearing the news about the Maui forces, Kamehameha decided to stop at Kawaihae in order to reorganize his warriors and wait for his forces traveling overland. When these forces arrived and had some time to rest, Kamehameha put his military strategy into action.

July 2008 -- It was during the battle of the Bitter Rain where it became clearly obvious that the Hilo warriors largely outnumbered Kamehameha’s forces. But Kamehameha and his warrior trainer, Kekūhaupi‘o, were able to outmaneuver and ward off the large number of spears flown by the enemy.

June 2008 -- It was not long after he returned to Kohala that news arrived that Kānekoa, the Ali‘i from Hāmākua was killed in battle against Keōuakū‘ahu‘ula of Ka‘ū. When Kamehameha was a child, Kānekoa was one of his kahu (guardian).

May 2008 -- Although Kamehameha’s advisers continued to insist that preparation for war against Keawemauhili was necessary, he would not give consent, but continued to listen to the demands. Kaleipaihala, son of Keōuakūahu‘ula, but a strong supporter of Kamehameha, had recently returned from Hilo with a fleet of peleleu canoe built specifically for use in warfare.

April 2008 -- After the battle at Moku‘ohai, Kamehameha’s supporters urged that he consider going to battle against his uncle Keawemauhili who controlled the Hilo district and Keōuakū‘ahu‘ula, his cousin, the ali‘i of Ka‘ū in order to expand control of Hawai‘i Island.

March 2008 -- In the last issue of NWHT, we read about the battle of Moku‘ōhai and the result of that battle. Sadly, the thousands of well-trained warriors equipped with pololū (long wooden spears,) pohaku ‘alā o ka ma‘a (slingstones) and ‘īkoi (tripping club) were Hawaiians fighting Hawaiians, cousins fighting cousins, and women standing behind their husbands as a display of loyalty to their ali‘i.

February 2008 -- The mo‘olelo tells of the loyal support among the Ali‘i for Kīwala‘ō. But there was also support for his cousin Kamehameha whose core supporters were initially his uncle Kaha‘i (half-brother of Keōuakupuapaikalaninui, Kamehameha’s father) and Kānekoa, a well-known Ali‘i of Waimea, as well as, the twins, Kame‘eiamoku and Kamanawa and Kekūhaupi‘o, the warrior ali‘i of Ke‘ei.

January 2008 -- After his death, the body of Kalani‘ōpu‘u was prepared for burial according to traditions. The body was placed in a plaited coconut leaf shelter where it could be viewed and mourned by the ali‘i (chiefs) and maka‘āinana (common people).

December 2007 -- In the case of Kalani‘ōpu‘u, he resided in Kailua for some time after living in Kainaliu and Keauhou. At the time of Cook’s visit, Kalani‘ōpu‘u was described as old, perhaps senile, at about 5’8” tall and slender with scaly skin; the result of awa drinking over a long period of time.

October 2007 -- Just as he did a year earlier at Kaua‘i, Cook arrived off the coast of Maui. It was the time of Makahiki. The mo‘olelo indicates that all warfare ceased during the time of makahiki in order to pay homage and collect the yearly taxes for Lono, god of peace and agriculture.

September 2007 -- The mo‘olelo of the arrival of Cook on Kaua‘i began to spread to the other islands. Ka‘eokūlani, ali‘i of Kaua‘i, sent messengers to O‘ahu to share what had happened and to describe the appearance of foreigners.

August 2007 -- On January 1778, the worldly view of Hawaiians changed with the arrival of British Captain James Cook’s ships off the island of Kaua‘i. The exchanges between the two cultures would lead the way for other interactions that in time would result in the drastic depopulation of Hawaiians and the near extinction of the culture.

July 2007 -- The months following Kīwala‘ō’s death was a time of many battles, both on the field and politically.

June 2007 -- At this point in the mo‘olelo of our Ali‘i and the battles between families, let us digress for a short while and reflect on Kahekili, Ali‘i Nui of Maui. His name is mentioned in many battles especially those against Kalani‘ōpu‘u of Hawai‘i island.

May 2007 -- Alapa‘i is said to have spent his remaining years in Hilo, but frequently traveled around the island to ensure all affairs were in order. It is believed, but not proven, that he was responsible for the death of Keōuakupuapāikalaninui, his nephew and father of Kamehameha I, by either poison or sorcery.

April 2007 -- When all preparations were made ready for the invasion of Maui, Alapa‘inui set sail with his fleet and landed at Mokulau, in the Kaupō district of Maui.

March 2007 -- Although Keaweikekahiali‘iokamoku, also referred to in the mo‘olelo as Keawe, may have ruled with a strong arm, the mo‘olelo tell of his ability to maintain control of the government and rule Hawai‘i island without rebellions or bloodshed.

February 2007 -- The reign of Keakealaniwahine as ali‘i nui of Hawai‘i island was a challenging one. The family of ‘Ī independently ruled the Hilo district since the time of their ancestor Kumulae, the son of ‘Umi.

January 2007 -- Lonoikamakahiki had no children with his wife Kaikilani-Ali‘i-Wahine-o-Puna. According to the mo‘olelo, neither of his two sons from Kaikilani-kohepani‘o of the Laea family of Kona inherited control of the kingdom for unspecified reasons.

December 2006 -- Having restored peace and order Lonoikamakahiki made a tour around Hawai‘i island dedicating several heiau as an acknowledgement to the gods for his victories in battle.

November 2006 -- Although the mo‘olelo claim that not much is known about Keali‘iokāloa, snippets of his rule and deeds as ruler have been preserved.

October 2006 -- As mentioned in the last issue of NWHT, one of the marked change that took place during the rule of ‘Umi was the location of his seat of government. Instead of remaining in Waipi‘o Valley, ‘Umi moved residence to the Kona district in the Kailua area.

September 2006 -- Hākau, whose mother Pinea was from Maui, and `Uni were half-brothers. In the last issue of NWHIT, we read about `Umi’s birth and the symbols left by his father Līloa as tokens for identity.

August 2006 -- “This is my command…He shall be named ‘Umi. I am Liloa, and these are the tokens for the child when he grows up and seeks me in Waipi‘o: the feather cape [ahu‘ula], ivory pendant [lei niho palaoa], helmet [mahi‘ole] and kauila spear (laau palau).”

July 2006 -- We continue with the mo‘olelo of the Ali‘i and look at a contemporary of Pi‘ilani, Līloa of Hawai‘i island. It is from the rule of this ali‘i that we begin to see a movement towards the idea of unification of the island kingdoms with one supreme ruler.

June 2006 -- The island of Moloka`i, at this time, presented no historical evidence of importance except for the downfall of Kahokuohua from the invasion by Kalaunuiohua, ali`i nui of Hawai`i Island, whose goal was territorial expansion and total subjugation of all the islands.

May 2006 -- In the mo‘olelo of Pi‘ilani of Maui, we find that he married his cousin Laielohelohe, the daughter of the chiefs Kelea and Kalamakua of O‘ahu.

April 2006 -- During the reign of Kaulahea I the mo‘olelo is silent on anything significant until his sons take control. Kakae and his brother Kaka‘analeo ruled jointly over Maui island after the death of their father Kaulahea I.

March 2006 -- The mo‘olelo and ruling ali‘i of Maui Island begins at Kau‘iki, an extinct crater almost four hundred feet high on the south side of the entrance to Hana Bay.

February 2006 -- Whether or not Kūali‘i had the notion that the possibility of supreme control over all the islands was feasible is not certain, but he considered that idea with an exploratory raid of Hawai‘i island.

January 2006 -- According to the mo‘olelo, Kuali‘i’s birthplace was at Waiomuku in Waiahole where he was born in 1655.

December 2005 -- Of the many teachers that Kākuhihewa had, Ma‘ilele was his teacher in the art of shooting with bows and arrows.

November 2005 -- After the death of Kala‘imanuia, there was dissention among her heirs.

October 2005 -- Kalanimanuia was born at Kūkaniloko on O‘ahu. Luaia, her father, was of very high rank and traced his lineage to chiefs on Maui.

September 2005 -- After La‘amaikahiki left Kaua‘i and returned to Rāiatea with his father’s bones, his son, Lāuliala‘a was the ali‘iai moku of the Kona district of O‘ahu.

July 2005 --The years of destruction to the island’s resources were over.

June 2005 -- When Ahukini-a-La‘a took control of the government, the districts of Puna and Kona were still at war with each other just as they had been under the rule of Ka‘ililauokekoa.

May 2005 -- In the last issue, Hākau and ‘Umi, sons of Līloa, were the focus. But, we must not forget that the people of Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, and Maui had to contend with their own ali‘i and the challenges that those ali‘i encountered as rulers of their kingdom.

April 2005 -- The mo‘olelo of ‘Umi a Līloa (‘Umi, son of Līloa) is an early example of a Mō‘ī redistributing political power among his heirs. Līloa was an ali‘i kapu nui, a sacred high chief, who was noted for his good deeds.

March 2005 -- Following Pili’s reign (1320-1340), the oral history speaks little about the early rulers of the Pili genealogy. But, by the end of the 1500s, two prominent figures, Līloa and his son ‘Umi receive attention.

February 2005 -- According to the mo’olelo, it was Pā’ao who introduced new elements to the existing religious systems when he arrived in Hawai’i . It is believed that it was he who introduced image worship and reformed the religious priesthood.

December 2004 -- When La‘a’s canoe glided onto the sands of ‘Aliō beach at Wailua, Kaua‘i, father and son greeted and embraced each other warmly.

November 2004 -- In continuing the mo‘olelo of Hawaiian ali‘i we turn to the voyagers. Among them was Mo‘ikeha.

October 2004 -- Hawai‘i’s history, preserved in chants and song, was formally recited in the high chief’s court or in an informal family gathering. This narrative historical chronology was ordered by the genealogy of the high chief, which went back to the time that the gods walked the earth.


More Stories from Hawai`i History

My War Years in Hawai`i

by Walter Steiger

The date was 26 January 1945 when we arrived in Hawai`i by troop ship. We were housed in a small barracks on the grounds of the “Pupule House" on School Street in Honolulu.


SEPTEMBER 11, 1897…Patriotism in Hawai`i

by Roy Alameida

September 11, 1897 was the date that the petition against the annexation of Hawai`i to the United States was signed by the president and secretary of the women’s and men’s branches of the Hui Aloha ‘Āina - the Hawaiian Patriotic League: Kuaihelani Campbell, Lydia Oholo, James Keauiluna Kaulia and Enoch Johnson.



By Roy Alameida

On January 17, 1893, the Hawaiian monarchy ended in a bloodless revolution. It was one of the darkest days in Hawai`i’s history and January 17, 2005 marks the 112th anniversary of the overthrow. This article captures a synopsis of that significant and historical event.


Forgotten Hawaiians: The Pacific Northwest

By James G.Y. Ho

Hawaiians had a big impact in the early history of the Pacific Northwest. Have you heard of the Owyhee River in eastern Oregon, or the Owyhee Lake and the town of Owyhee in Nevada, or the river and town of Kalama and even the town of Friday Harbor? These were named after “Kanakas,” otherwise known as Sandwich Islanders, or Hawaiians.


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